96.1 FM, 780 AM, Yours for Western Alaska

Alumni Memories: Big Skies, Big Light, the Sun and the Moon, by David Dodman

KNOM Radio Mission stands on the shoulders of all the volunteers that have come before. For one, two or three years they give of their time and talents to enrich the airwaves and the mission of KNOM Radio. As they move on, volunteers take with them a wealth of experiences, memories, and relationships.

Former volunteer David Dodman shares two snapshot memories of his first year in Nome:

Many of my first memories of rural Alaska are of the immense skies we enjoy in this unique corner of the world. Year-round, these skies shine down some incredible light.

In Nome, Alaska, the skies are big. Really big. The nickname “big sky country” may belong to Montana, but the Alaskan bush, with nary a skyscraper in sight, enjoys its own unbroken horizons, its own wide-open vistas of as-far-as-the-eye-can-see countryside.

Our huge skies take many forms. On summer days, the endless sunshine seems to beam from every angle. When it rains, the pewter-colored clouds dominate our vast skies and threaten to swallow the Seward Peninsula’s small, rocky mountains. In winter, the colorful auroras (or Northern Lights) scatter their red and green flashes across a massive, inky canvas.

Standing squarely on the ground, you can look up and take it all in: Nome’s skies are so open, so unbroken. This wasn’t always the case where I grew up; in central New Jersey, tall oak trees and skyscrapers sometimes force you to appreciate the sky – and the beautiful light it casts – in smaller wedges. Finding the horizon can be difficult.

This difference was just one of the many lifestyle shifts that I found upon my arrival in Nome, to which I moved from Rahway, New Jersey in August 2006. Maybe it’s no surprise that some of my photos from my volunteer years at KNOM were of the sky – or of the beautiful light coming from it.

Here are just two shots – and two moments – from my first volunteer year.

First, a shot of the moon hanging over the Norton Sound, as viewed from the shoreline – just a block away from Front Street, in downtown Nome – in late September. (I had to use a tripod to do a long exposure for this picture; I accidentally captured the shadow from the tripod in the lower right part of the frame. Oops!)

Moonrise

My second picture is from a beautifully sunny afternoon/evening spent in the Dexter area, a region just a few miles past Nome’s outskirts. I went there with the other ’06-’07 KNOM volunteers (Ross and Jesse) for an open mic night and jam session. It was late May and the weather was gorgeous, and as the night wore on, many of the musicians went outside to jam in the beautiful golden light coming from the huge skies above. This picture is of Nome musicians Carl White (left) and Ian McCrae (right):

Carl and Ian

Being a KNOM volunteer, especially a first-year volunteer, so often means appreciating Alaska as the Alaskans do – by leaving the radio station and going outside – and at almost any time of year, our region’s beautiful, massive skies shine down from above.

I’m so appreciative to have had the opportunity to take in the incredible views of our sub-Arctic skies, right from my very first year as a KNOM volunteer. These moments – and so many others like them – will remain fastened in my memory long after my time in Nome is done (whenever that happens!).

This truly is a beautiful place – both on the ground and in the (big) sky.